08 Jul 6 Oral Symptoms That May Indicate Health Issues
Just as poor dental habits can contribute to health issues, good dental habits can identify underlying health issues before other symptoms occur. The mouth is often the first muscular organ in the body to send a signal when something isn’t quite right. Here are 6 signs from your mouth that there may be a larger medical concern.
WHAT YOUR MOUTH IS TELLING YOU
Concern: Chipped or Cracked Teeth
Could Be: Tooth Grinding
If you wake with a headache, tiredness, or a sore jaw, you might be grinding your teeth at night. Teeth grinding while sleeping is common and can be caused by jaw misalignment, missing teeth, illness, or stress. Left untreated, teeth grinding can cause long-term issues including cracked and chipped teeth, inner mouth soreness (from biting the cheek), and sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. A night guard protects teeth and improves the quality of sleep. Nightguards created by a dentist are custom-made to fit the patient and take into consideration jaw size, the severity of grinding, and other considerations.
Concern: Bleeding Gums
Could Be: Gingivitis
If you only floss your teeth the night before visiting the dentist, you may experience bleeding of the gums. When bleeding happens regularly, it could be a symptom of gingivitis. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease but left untreated can progress to periodontal disease, a systemic disease that affects the entire body. Other signs of gingivitis include swollen gums, dark-colored gums, receding gumlines, and bad breath. Once gingivitis occurs it must be treated by a dentist.
Concern: An Influx in Cavities
Could Be: Diabetes
Cavities happen for various reasons, including consuming sugar-laden foods and beverages, constant snacking, and poor dental habits. When cavities happen suddenly and in numbers, it could be a more serious sign of diabetes. Diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to process glucose (sugar). Diabetes can often go unnoticed in the early stages, and as blood sugar rises, symptoms begin to appear. The higher the blood sugar level the increased risk for cavities according to Mayo Clinic. Conversely, poor oral health can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, which may progress to Periodontal Disease. A systemic disease, periodontal disease travels through the body affecting other organs. It is the sixth leading complication of diabetes.
Concern: Canker Sores
Could Be: Celiac Disease
Gluten intolerance is the body’s negative reaction to eating foods containing wheat, barley, and rye. In celiac disease, prevents the small intestine from absorbing important nutrients causing long-term damage to the digestive tract. One cause of canker sores is the consumption of gluten-based foods by individuals with celiac disease. Small but painful, a canker sore occurs inside the mouth on soft tissue including under the tongue, near the base of gums, and inside the cheeks. It can be difficult to eat or drink when a canker sore is present. Canker sores may also be an indication of other non-oral-related health issues. It is important to see a dentist who can assess the cause and recommend further treatment.
Concern: Enamel is Wearing Away
Could Be: Acid Reflux
Approximately 20% of the U.S. population have acid reflux, also known as acid indigestion or heartburn. Acid reflux happens when the content of our stomachs back up into our esophagus. Acid reflux often feels like a burning or tightness in the throat or chest. Persistent acid reflux is known as Gastrointestinal Esophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. This constant backup of acid can wear down the enamel on teeth. There are many successful treatments for acid reflux that can be prescribed by a physician. Once under control, a dentist can take restorative steps to protect the enamel that has been damaged.
Concern: Bad Breath
Could Be: Poor Dental Habit, Infection or Disease
On occasion, we may eat a pungent dish that leaves us with bad breath but can be corrected with brushing and a swish of mouthwash. Bad breath, also called halitosis, can occur due to poor brushing habits that leave particles of food stuck in teeth. But when bad breath becomes a persistent issue, it’s time to head to the dentist. Bad breath can be caused by dry mouth or as the result of taking certain medications. An infection of the mouth can also cause our breath to take a turn. Gum disease happens below the gum line, and our breath may be the first indication of a problem. Finally, bad breath may be caused by certain metabolic disorders or result from chemicals used to treat cancer. Don’t cover your mouth if your breath smells, call your dentist instead.
Our mouths make it possible for us to eat, drink, talk, kiss, and smile. It is also a key organ that can sound off alarms when our health has gone astray. Stay committed to a healthy brushing habit and take notice when changes occur.
At Imperial Dental Center, our goal is to provide the best oral care to our patients to ensure the overall health of your teeth and body. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
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